This may be the last year kids can scoop up candy at the “Hearts of Gold” parade that kicks off the three-day Valleyfest event if kids don’t stay out of the street while parade floats go by.
“Kids cannot be in the streets,” said Valleyfest organizer Peggy Doering. “The big rigs can’t see them. It’s a huge safety issue.”
Doering said that some parade participants have refused to return this year because they were so afraid of running someone over. Last year she saw kids nearly swarming the floats in search of candy. “The kids just kept getting closer and closer and closer,” she said. “The kids just darted in front of cars.”
This year parade participants are being instructed to hand candy to children along the parade route rather than throwing it and touching off a mad scramble. After the parade is over Doering will evaluate how it went and if candy can continue to be handed out in future years. “This is our last chance,” she said. “How would we all feel if someone got hurt?”
The parade down Sprague Avenue is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Beginning at 6 the street will be closed to through traffic between Robie Road and University.
Most of the activities for the 21st annual Valleyfest are scheduled to take place Sept. 25 at CenterPlace and Mirabeau Park, and only a few changes are planned. This year there will be hosts for the breakfast served at CenterPlace from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman, Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey, Spokane County Commissioner Mark Richard and several Valley school district superintendents will be there to speak to people about any concerns they may have and to get ideas on how to build the Valley community.
Also new this year is a PG Comedy Cup at 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at CenterPlace. A field of comedians will be narrowed down in advance to the top 10, who will compete during Valleyfest to determine the winner. The preliminary competition is open to all ages and will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Luxury Box. Participants should arrive at 6:30 p.m. to register.
Many popular events are returning, including the classic car show, the planetarium in CenterPlace, a fun run, Fishing at the Falls and evening star gazing. Responsible Dog Ownership Day is back in the park on Sept. 26. This year’s entertainment lineup includes the Inland Northwest Dance Association, the Nicole Lewis Band, Jazz Northwest and the salsa group Son Dulce. There also will be performances by dancers from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, a demonstration from Jung Kim Martial Arts and the Japanese Bon Odori Dancers.
The Taste of the Valley event featuring local food and wine is back again from 6 to 8 p.m. at CenterPlace. The night will also feature jazz performances by the Kathleen Cavender Band and Hot Club of Spokane. Tickets for the event are $30 and can be purchased online at www.valleyfest.org.
The hot air balloons also will be back, weather permitting. There are launches scheduled at 6:40 a.m. near CenterPlace on all three days as well as a night glow at 8 p.m. on Sept. 25. High winds could cancel the launches. “We’re hoping for great weather with the balloons,” Doering said.
The Spokane Transit Authority will again be offering shuttle rides. Riders will be picked up at the Spokane Valley Mall and the business park at Pines and Mirabeau Parkway anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 and can ride all day for 75 cents.